Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Packing for my 14-day "vacation"
Okay, so it's not really a vacation. It's actually a 14-day cleanse, but so much of our reality is determined by the language we use and vacation sounds way cooler than cleanse. No, it's not a diet. It's not some weird new age thing. It's just a 2 week trial to see what makes my body feel better. I'm not following any particular program. I've researched and researched, and am pulling together the best from a few different schools of thought. And yes, I am packing - packing my refrigerator and cabinets with yummy goodness.
Why am I doing this? Well, my motivation is two-fold.
First, I am determined to figure out what triggers my flare ups and the lovely symptoms that follow. Diet is a pretty easy and tangible way to start. Let's just be honest, my ultimate goal is to reach a state of remission - where I have no pain, no symptoms, and hopefully can stop taking medication. Oh, that would be fabulous.
Second, my immune system needs as much help as she can get. It's frustratingly ironic. AS is caused in part by a problem with the immune system. Normally, your immune system protects your body from infections and certain diseases. One of the proteins that plays an important role in our immune system is the tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Yes, TNF is a good thing - when you have just the right amount. People with inflammatory diseases such as AS have too much TNF in their bodies. In other words, my immune system is revving on high and attacking all the good stuff, like my spine. The shot that I give myself every week reduces the level of active TNF in my body, but it does this by, let's just face it, destroying my immune system. Case in point, last month I woke up with a scratchy throat. Normally a little boost of Vitamin C and a few extra hours of sleep would nip that in the bud. Well, things have changed. My scratchy throat turned into a full blown infection that lasted over 2 weeks and required antibiotics. Ugh. My doctor reminded me that I need to see him as soon as I feel sick because my body won't be able to "kick it" like it used to. In other words, I'll be the one on the airplane with the face mask and gloves. I'm sorry, but that's just hard to swallow. I hate to think that any part of me is fragile (if you know me, you know I'm sort of a tough cookie). In all seriousness, it just doesn't make sense. Our bodies are supposed to heal itself. You get a cut, it scabs up and it heals - all by itself. Anyway, that's what I'm trying to do: help my body heal itself.
So, without further adieu, here's what's on the menu for the next 2 weeks:
- Green juice and green smoothies (morning, noon and night)
- Greens, greens, greens: kale, romaine, chard, basically anything with a leaf
- Summer squashes
- Sweet sugar snap peas
- Beets and carrots
- Fresh Corn
- Nuts, and lots of them!
- Brown rice
- Fruit: Thank God it's berry season!
Now doesn't that sound delicious? Come on, really, it doesn't sound too bad, huh? See, it's always better to focus on what you can indulge yourself in, not what you have to deprive yourself of. If I started with what's OFF the menu, you'd probably feel sorry for me.
Here's what I'm taking a vacation from:
- Gluten (that takes care of 50% of the grocery store: breads, cereals, crackers, oats, pasta, sauces, soups, etc).
- Dairy (yup, that means ice cream, cheese, milk, yogurt...)
- Sugar (the refined/processed kind - basically anything in a package)
- Meat (that'll be easy - going on 5 months as a vegetarian. Woo hoo!!)
- Caffeine (another easy one - I'm not much of a coffee drinker)
- Alcohol (my red wine can wait)
So to break it all down I'll be kicking up the green drinks and eating like a gluten-free, sugar-free vegan. It'll be a bit of a challenge, especially because I still have to cook some "regular" food for my daughters and husband. Oh well, I take it as a personal challenge. Since I can't exactly push myself to hike to the top of some mountain these days, I have to push the envelope in other ways.
I start next week Monday (I was going to start sooner but we're camping again this weekend and what kind of mother would I be if I didn't partake in s'mores). Does anyone want to join me? Your "vacation" can look a little different from mine. Maybe it's kicking the sugar, maybe it's adding green smoothies, whatever you think would do your body some good. Let me know if you're going to join me for the ride. Fun!
Cheers to Happy Immune Systems,
Posted by Thrive Out Loud at 2:45 PM